Tennis: Kerber's No. 1 rank uncertain after shock

Angelique Kerber of Germany in action against Carina Witthoeft of Germany during round two of the Women's Singles at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on Jan 18, 2017.
Angelique Kerber of Germany in action against Carina Witthoeft of Germany during round two of the Women's Singles at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on Jan 18, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

HONG KONG • Women's world No. 1 Angelique Kerber crashed out of tennis' Hong Kong Open in the quarter-finals yesterday, the German slumping to a shock 6-3, 6-1 defeat by Australia's Daria Gavrilova at Victoria Park.

It threw her status as year-end world No. 1 in doubt.

Kerber, who also suffered a surprise loss to Elina Svitolina in the round of 16 at last week's China Open, committed six double faults and struggled on serve, as her 38th-ranked opponent secured victory in an hour and 14 minutes.

"(I was not surprised by Gavrilova) because I know how she is playing but I was not playing my best tennis and my serve wasn't working well and I can just say that I was not at my best, that's for sure," she said after the match.

"It's a long season and we've been playing for 10 months. I've been playing a lot of matches this year, and I think I need a few days off to get ready for (the WTA Finals in) Singapore because I am tired and I need a lot of treatment to get ready for the next one.

"I was not serving at my best, I made a lot of double faults which is not normal for my game."

Moscow-born Gavrilova fired five aces as the 22-year-old continues her quest for a first WTA singles title. She will next face Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, who beat American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), for a place in the final.

Her victory over Kerber, who surged to the top of the rankings after winning the Australian and US Open titles this year as well as reaching the Wimbledon final, was her first against the Olympic silver medallist in six meetings.

"I've played Angie six times and now I've finally won, it's really exciting," Gavrilova said.

"I was prepared for a battle. I think Angie has had a long season. I didn't expect to win that easily but I was ready to turn it around and get a win against her."

In the other quarter-finals, fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark beat China's Wang Qiang 6-3, 7-5, while defending champion Jelena Jankovic overcame France's Alize Cornet 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline 'Kerber's No. 1 rank uncertain after shock'. Print Edition | Subscribe